A Good Person from writer and director Zach Braff begins on a happy note. Allison (Florence Pugh) and Nathan (Chinaza Uche) celebrate their engagement at a party crowded with friends and family. Allison sings and plays one of her original songs on the piano. Life is good.
But A Good Person isn’t about life being good. It’s about what happens when life hands you pain, grief, guilt, addiction, and tragedy.
The morning after the party, Allison is driving Nathan’s sister and brother-in-law home when a giant road construction machine backs up right in front of her. She can’t stop. Allison’s two passengers are killed. Allison is left alive but severely injured. A year later she’s dealing with an opioid addiction.
Allison broke up with Nathan. She couldn’t deal with the aftermath of the accident. Her doctors and her mother (Molly Shannon) were trying without success to get her off opioids.
Addiction stories are nothing new, but Florence Pugh’s performance in this with an equally stunning Morgan Freeman opposite her, raised this film above many others with a similar theme. Every minute of it felt raw, real, and true. The heart-wrenching pain from all the actors, including Nathan’s teenaged niece Ryan (Celeste O’Connor), was compelling and authentic.
When Allison could no longer fill her prescriptions, she turned to the street for drugs. Two of her high school classmates she’d spurned in school gave her drugs but made her admit, “I’m a fucking addict,” aloud before they did. It was her (first) rock bottom. She found an AA meeting and rode her bike there (no more driving cars for Allison).
The first person she saw when she walked into the meeting was Nathan’s father, Daniel (Morgan Freeman). Daniel was an alcoholic ex-cop, now sober and raising the rebellious teen Ryan. Instead of letting Allison walk out and find another meeting, Daniel cajoled Allison into attending that meeting. Zoe Lister-Jones as Simone became Allison’s sponsor.
Allison, Daniel, and Ryan were all tangled up after that. A series of slips, mistakes, and errors in judgement led them to another crisis. Finally, Allison was ready to face the truth about the accident and really seek help. The road to recovery was arduous, but not impossible.
The film felt personal. True. Brilliant performances gave it power and weight. It’s streaming on Prime Video and well worth the watch. I’m not much good at predicting Oscar nominations, but I think this film puts Florence Pugh in the running.
If you watch it, please share your thoughts in the comments.